Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono
Monday, April 16, 2018, 2:18 p.m. Iikura House
Today, the Fourth Japan-China High-Level Economic Dialogue was held. This was the first holding of this dialogue for eight years. I served as the chair from Japan, while State Councilor Wang Yi served as the chair from China, and the major ministers related to the economy from both countries participated. In the dialogue, we discussed the promotion of further cooperation between Japan and China going forward from broad and big-picture perspectives, and based on the perception that Japan and China are important partners for each other for cooperation in economic areas and that their mutual economic development is an opportunity, we reached agreement to expand and enhance cooperation and exchanges at various levels. Furthermore, we agreed to play a responsible role in the development of the global economy and solution of global issues from a broad perspective. We agreed that going forward we would continue to hold this dialogue and that we would hold the fifth meeting in China at an appropriate time convenient for both parties. At yesterday’s Japan-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting I confirmed with State Councilor Wang Yi that we would comprehensively improve the Japan-China relations and build stable ties this year, which is the 40th anniversary of the conclusion of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan and China. The holding of this high-level economic dialogue is a major step toward the improvement of Japan-China relations, and I intend to use it as an opportunity to make Japan-China economic relations even stronger going forward.
Reporter: Currently the United States and China are imposing economic sanctions on each other. Did you have any exchanges about that in the dialogue?
Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: All countries share the perception that causing trade wars will have an extremely large impact on the prosperity of the global economy. Japan raised the problem of intellectual property rights and proposed that we should enable fair and free technology transfers and exchanges of intellectual property.
Reporter: What did China say about your proposal?
Minister Kono: They said a variety of things, but I will refrain from commenting on the statements of the other party.
Reporter: Regarding relations between the United States and China, please tell us what you said regarding the import restrictions on steel.
Minister Kono: Regarding the matters related to steel too, the Japanese participants raised the issues. Japan stated that dealing with the excess supply capacity was necessary.
Reporter: In regard to trade between Japan and China, China has the Belt and Road economic zone and Japan has the Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy. What kinds of exchanges of views did you have about these two strategies?
Minister Kono: The One Belt and One Road and the Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy were discussed a little at yesterday’s Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. Japan talked about the fact that it was sufficiently feasible to cooperate case-by-case on a variety of projects in a form in line with international standards, and that we would strongly advance cooperation between Japan and China in third countries. Japan also stated that the Free and Open Indo-Pacific based on the rule of law would also contribute to China’s Belt and Road.
Reporter: Regarding the Belt and Road, do you mean that Japan communicated the fact that Japan would be able to cooperate case-by-case?
Minister Kono: I stated that Japan could consider cooperation case-by-case for projects that firmly match the standards that are being established internationally, namely taking into consideration international standards and transparency, openness, the soundness of the project and the fiscal soundness of the country accepting the financing, and environmental and social factors.
Reporter: Do you perceive that China has called for cooperation regarding the One Belt and One Road?
Minister Kono: I received a quite detailed explanation from China about the One Belt and One Road as a part of one of the items on the agenda.
Reporter: Specifically what do you mean by global issues?
Minister Kono: Even now Japan and China are the second and third largest economies in the world, so I stated that it was important for the two countries to not only address bilateral issues between the two countires, but also to work together side by side to solve global issues such as the SDGs and climate change, and I intend to have brief discussions on a variety of specific issues going forward and cooperate together with China while tackling them.
Reporter: In relation to the Belt and Road you said there were discussions about international standards. Did this discussion occur in the context of Japan and China playing the responsible role in the international community that you mentioned in your opening remarks?
Minister Kono: Naturally a part of international responsibility is to firmly maintain the free trade system, and naturally this includes that Japan and China will lead in tackling global issues.
Reporter: What kind of discussions did you have about the FTA and RCEP between Japan and China?
Minister Kono: We shared the perception that it was necessary to speed up the FTA between Japan and China and RCEP in order to integrate the East Asia economic zone now.
Reporter: You said you would hold the fifth meeting in China at an appropriate time. I think that as a general rule it has been held once every year to date. Are we to understand this holding of the meeting once every year will not change?
Minister Kono: Japan would like to hold it both next year and the year after next so if possible I intend to hold this high-level economic dialogue every year to hold broad and big-picture discussions, and follow-up on specific matters. Next time we intend to hold it in China. We reached mutual agreement on holding the next meeting in China. I think that perhaps we share the view that the earliest possible appropriate time will be next year for both of us.
Reporter: In the first place, are we to understand that you agreed to firmly maintain the free trade system?
Minister Kono: Japan and China have the shared perception that both countries have received enormous economic benefits under free trade.
Reporter: Did China seek any cooperation from Japan regarding the import restrictions on steel and aluminum?
Minister Kono: None in particular.